Dog Theft: A Case for Tougher Sentencing Legislation
2. The Human-Canine Bond
3. How Do Dogs Benefit Humans?
4. How Can the Theft of a Dog Impact Their Guardian?
5. Problems Associated with Treating Companion Animals as “Property”
6. Legal Cases Where the Categorization of Dogs as “Property” Has Been Questioned in Court
6.1. Myers v. City of Hartford. 853 A.2d, 625 (Conn. App. Ct. 2004)
“Labelling a pet as property fails to describe the emotional value human beings place on the companionship that they enjoy with such an animal. Although dogs are considered property… this term inadequately and inaccurately describes the relationship between an individual and his or her pet.”
6.2. Rabideau v. City of Racine. 627 N.W.2d 795 (Wis. 2001)
“At the outset, we note that we are uncomfortable with the law’s cold characterization of a dog, such as Dakota, as mere “property.” Labelling a dog “property” fails to describe the value human beings place upon the companionship that they enjoy with a dog. A companion dog is not a fungible item, equivalent to other items of personal property. A companion dog is not a living room sofa or dining room furniture. This term inadequately and inaccurately describes the relationship between a human and a dog.”
6.3. Carl Bueckner v. Anthony (Tony) Hamel and Kathy Collins 886 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. App. 1994)
“Society has long since moved beyond the untenable Cartesian view that animals are unfeeling automatons and, hence, mere property. The law should reflect society’s recognition that animals are sentient and emotive beings that are capable of providing companionship to the humans with whom they live. In doing so, courts should not hesitate to acknowledge that a great number of people in this country today treat their pets as family members. Indeed, for many people, pets are the only family members they have. Losing a beloved pet is not the same as losing an inanimate object, however cherished it may be. Even an heirloom of great sentimental value, if lost, does not constitute a loss comparable to that of a living being. This distinction applies even though the deceased living being is a nonhuman.”
6.4. Corso v. Crawford Cat and Dog Hospital Inc 415 N.Y.S.2d (182 N.Y.City Civ.Ct., 1979)
“This court now overrules prior precedent and holds that a pet is not just a thing but occupies a special place somewhere in between a person and a piece of personal property.” “In ruling that a pet such as a dog is not just a thing I believe the plaintiff is entitled to damages beyond the market value of the dog. A pet is not an inanimate thing that just receives affection it also returns it” “This decision is not to be construed to include an award for the loss of a family heirloom which would also cause great mental anguish. An heirloom while it might be the source of good feelings is merely an inanimate object and is not capable of returning love and affection. It does not respond to human stimulation; it has no brain capable of displaying emotion which in turn causes a human response. Losing the right to memorialize a pet rock, or a pet tree or losing a family picture album is not actionable. But a dog that is something else. To say it is a piece of personal property and no more is a repudiation of our humaneness. This I cannot accept.”
7. Previous Proposals for a New Legal Status for Non-Human Animals
8.1. Category Grading
8.2. Other Aggravating Factors
Conflicts of Interest
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Harris, L.K. Dog Theft: A Case for Tougher Sentencing Legislation. Animals 2018, 8, 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050078
Harris LK. Dog Theft: A Case for Tougher Sentencing Legislation. Animals. 2018; 8(5):78. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050078Chicago/Turabian Style
Harris, Lauren K. 2018. "Dog Theft: A Case for Tougher Sentencing Legislation" Animals 8, no. 5: 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050078